Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Convention Experience, Part II

I'm proud to say I was one of the callers who phoned in tonight to the Turi Ryder Show, where David Goldstein was guest hosting. I called in to talk about the convention, discussing the high attendance numbers, the candidates, and the energy in Yakima.

We've posted my appearance on KIRO with David in the Audio Archive; you can listen to it here.

One other thing I wanted to discuss: yesterday, Diane Tebelius and Brad Harwood (who does communications for the state GOP) put out a press release claiming that Democrats aren't united behind Maria Cantwell:
Today a divided Democratic Party met in Yakima and attempted to rally the troops for the 2006 election cycle. As anticipated, Democrats were fiercely divided over the Iraq War, and their incumbent US Senate candidate, Maria Cantwell. Cantwell voted for the war and has voted for every Congressional appropriation in support of it. Her speech to convention delegates earlier today was met with mixed responses.

“There is a clear division within the Democratic Party over Maria Cantwell” said Washington State Republican Party Chairman Diane Tebelius. “The Democratic base’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for Cantwell is definitely going to hurt her in November. Republicans, on the other hand, are enthusiastically united behind Mike McGavick.”

Reactions to Cantwell’s appearance at the convention were mixed. Many delegates sported “No War” buttons, and before her speech chanted “No more war.”
What a laughable distortion of the facts.

I've never seen fellow Democrats more united in their resolve to change our country. Democrats are most certainly not divided over the Iraq War. With the exception of a tiny few, just about every candidate and every Democratic delegate in attendance would have told you (if you asked) that the Iraq War has long been a disaster, and that we are overdue in giving Iraq back to the Iraqis.

The idea that the party is "fiercely divided" over Iraq is simply ludicrous. Maria Cantwell may have murky position on the war, but that's not "fierce division" within the Democratic Party.

Cantwell has been criticized for her position on Iraq, not just once or twice, but many times. And it's true that one of her greatest weaknesses as a candidate is her very confusing stance. I certainly wish she'd stand up to the administration on this issue. But I think Maria is unsure herself what her position ought to be.

Nevertheless, Cantwell does indeed enjoy strong support. The minority that do not support her at all - the ones who favor another candidate - are loud and vocal, but they are most certainly a small minority.

Tebelius and Harwood implied in their release that anyone sporting a "No War" sticker or "No War" sign (which many delegates were wearing or holding) is not a Cantwell supporter. That's a stupid assumption.

I oppose the Iraq War, and I did in fact have one of those signs with me. Yet I wholeheartedly support Senator Maria Cantwell.

And the fact that the room was dotted with those signs proves my earlier point that the party is almost unanimously united in its opposition to the Republican engineered war in Iraq.

Tebelius and Harwood also claimed, using David Postman's reporting:
Even the state chair of her own party, Dwight Pelz, chastised her during his opening speech
That, of course, is a lie. What Chairman Pelz said was that this is a Republican war, started by a Republican President and Secretary of Defense, and that "not a Democrat in Congress would have voted to force a Democratic President to invade Iraq."

Ask Dwight Pelz if he wholeheartedly supports Maria Cantwell and you will hear a resounding "YES". Like me, Chairman Pelz strongly opposes the Iraq War, and yet is also a big backer of Maria Cantwell.

If you take a look back at my convention coverage you'll find a photo of major Democratic leaders standing by side with Senator Cantwell to show their support. Dwight Pelz is in that photo.

Finally, Tebelius claimed "the rift in the Democratic Party is not going to heal overnight. Washington voters are not going to vote for a party that does not have a clear message."

Neither the Democratic nor the Republican parties are a hundred percent united a hundred percent of the time. Tebelius should know this, after her own party had a heated debate over immigration at their convention which resulted in a platform plank that many elected Republicans find unacceptable.

Democrats are concerned about Senator Cantwell's position on Iraq. The majority, like me, are still supporting her even though we wish she'd establish a clear antiwar position. Then there are a minority who see Cantwell's murkiness on the war as totally unacceptable, and are supporting another candidate like Mark Wilson, "Mr. Perennial", or Hong Tran.

But we as a party have never been more united in pursuit of our goals.

I have talked to many activists who are opposing Cantwell in the primary who say they will vote for her in the general election, because they understand the consequences of electing Mike McGavick, who is completely backwards on just about everything.

Mike McGavick, by the way, is only the Republican frontrunner. He is not the Republican candidate, because he also has challengers: C Mark Greene and Brad Klippert.

So actually, Republicans can't be that united behind Mike McGavick, because Mike has not just one but two primary challengers. Of course, McGavick will probably win the GOP primary with ease - just as Maria Cantwell will win the Democratic primary with ease.

The bottom line is that Tebelius and Harwood don't have any ammunition or points to make. The best they could do was put out a weak press release which completely misstates the situation within the Democratic Party.

They failed miserably, and if this is in fact their best shot, I'm feeling pretty confident that Mike McGavick will be trounced by Senator Maria Cantwell in November.

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